Eighty years ago the Ukrianians were left counting the cost of such political power from this man-made disaster. Askold Krushelnycky explains that this artificial famine of devastating proportions was the culmination of a savage piece of human engineering designed to eliminate an economic class that the Communists viewed as their fierce opponents. It was also intended to break the will of Ukrainians - Communists and non-Communists alike -- who clung to their national identity.
Kuushelnycky noted that Stalin saw Ukrainian peasants as forming the front line of the Ukrainian nationalist movement he so intensely disliked. He resented the compromises Moscow had been forced to make with Ukrainian Communists - compromises that gave them a degree of autonomy and that saw a revival of Ukrainian culture and language.
The Soviets divided the peasants into different categories. The primary class enemy was the kulak, relatively well-off farmers who could afford to own several heads of livestock and occasionally hire help with ploughing or harvesting. To eliminate the kulaks, the Communists hoped to gain the support from poorer peasant farmers by drumming up class resentment.
A venomous propaganda war fomented hatred against kulaks and their families, portraying them as a threat equal to an invading foreign army. Communists and brigades of so-called "activists" backed by Soviet secret police brutally stripped the kulaks of their homes and possessions, shooting those who resisted and deporting millions to Siberia and the Far North.
Together with "dekulakisation," a process of collectivisation was under way. The Communists imposed crippling grain demands on peasant farmers to make it unprofitable to sustain their small holdings and pressure them into joining collective farms. Many of these poorer peasants were ultimately reclassified as kulaks themselves. Most joined the collective farms reluctantly. Many were executed for trying to sell off or slaughter their livestock rather than donating them to the collective farms.
The collective farms were notoriously inefficient. Even so -- and against the pleas of even senior Ukrainian Communist leaders - Stalin in 1932 increased grain quotas in Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and Russia's Volga region. The demand made famine inevitable. As hunger begun to take a firmer grip on the peasant population, the communist authorities used force and terror to fulfil the grain quotas which left peasants and collective farms with little or nothing to sustain themselves with.
Thousands of peasants who tried to hide grain or other food to feed their families were executed, as were many local Communist officials who objected to a policy that brought starvation to many areas as 1932 approached its end. The book "Harvest of Sorrow" by British historian Robert Conquest stated: "They thought up the idea of an artificial famine as the easiest way to break Ukraine's neck and to take control of Ukraine at little cost to themselves." Starvation was rampant in 1933."
There is no greater example of military starvation than the Nazi's thrust into the USSR in 1942-43 where at every point of conquest the trains were loaded with every milking cow, the beef cattle, sheep, horses, goats, plus whatever wheat and food stores there were and on they went back to Germany.
The DVD The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials November 20, 1945 – October 1, 9146 by Executive Producers Kim Lyons and Gary Peet not only provides footage of those Nazi war criminals being tried, as the trial goes on, it shows the original footage of the war crimes including this mass exodus of the cattle and food stuffs onto the trains that were headed back to Germany.
As the Nazi jack-boot ran rampant throughout the European sector of the USSR so those remaining after the military continued on their battle fronts found themselves without food. In the cities of the Baltic States it became apparent those who worked for the Nazi war effort were fed and those who failed to comply had nothing to eat.
Richard Wurmbrand 1909-2001 was a Romanian Christian Evangelist of Jewish descent who dared to say that Communism and Christianity were not compatible. He spent many years in prison for his Christian beliefs, and wrote more than 18 books, the most widely known being Tortured for Christ. Variations of his works have been translated into more than 60 languages. He founded the international organisation Voice of the Martyrs, which continues to aid Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith. (en.wikipedia.org)
There is no better agent for describing Spiritual Starvation than was Richard Wurmbrand as his books details how even a scrap of the New Testament was like an indescribable joy as those in authority denied those being persecuted for their Christian beliefs from any form of the Scriptures.
For those of us in the western world who have never had to 'put up' as it were for our Christian belief, we have little concept of the notion of 'Spiritual Starvation' – for those who have endured this, they express their devastated hearts by speaking of it as a different form of torment yet equally powerful than the pangs of physical hunger. The very notion to recant one's Christian beliefs is calamitous to the soul.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at